Interface/Design Discussion

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Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 2nd, 2014, 5:50 pm

Ok, first things first: I had a huge post typed up here, but my session expired before I could preview/submit it, and login didn't bring me back to my draft. That is terrible.

Secondly: Thanks, inXile, for a chance at playing beta to a game I've waited for since I first played Wasteland as a tiny child. I got in trouble in first grade for writing a story with Hell Razor in it, so needless to say, I have many fond memories around this IP. The length of this post notwithstanding, it's been a pleasure to play, and the love you guys have for the world really shows through.

I'm making this thread to enumerate a bunch of design nitpicks I have. None of them are "bugs" per se (except, arguably, the NPC ammo issue), so I didn't feel it made sense to submit them through CenterCode. The general theme to them, inasmuch as there is one, is that "reducing the tedium of optimum play is good". I've followed the development of a few games, and I've really admired that principle (among others) as a way of generating really good ludological design--I highly recommend, for example, the amazing open-source roguelike Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/), whose devs follow that concept religiously. The polish in the resulting game really shines through.

Enough dilly-dallying, here's the list:
  1. Lockpicking, etc: Limiting player access to items and areas is a hard problem. WL2 tries to solve this with difficulty classes that result in probabilities, and chances of critical failure to limit spam. I believe this is the wrong way to go about it--my optimal play when the game is designed this way is to quicksave before every attempt, and just reload on a critical failure, which is a tedious way to play the game. This isn't an easy problem, and open-world RPGs have tried a lot of different ways of going about it with varying levels of success. Here's a quick, very incomplete, enumeration:
    1. Difficulties represent a threshold--either you have enough skill, or you don't. This is very straightforward, which I like, but it's not very satisfying, since accessing the limited areas or items is just a result of spending skill points in the right place. However, it is strictly better than the current system, which is essentially this, except accomplished through tedious quicksaving and quickloading.
    2. Difficulties affect a minigame that the character plays. This has a lot of potential, but in practice it's going to be very difficult to have a minigame that is engaging without that coming at the expense of the rest of the game. Further, failing the minigame usually just means quickloading again, only with additional tedium of having to play the (possibly subpar) minigame.
    3. A variation on the first, difficulties are a threshold, with reduced/lengthened time taken to do the task as you approach or supercede the threshold (for example, a class 3 lock is unpickable at 1 skill, picks in 30s at 2 skill, in 10s at 3, in 5 at 4, etc). This isn't very interesting by itself, but combined with some NPC patrolling mechanics it could provide some flavor that the simple threshold approach lacks.
    4. Success/failure are calculated for all checks of a certain type in the entire game as a character gains skill points. This means that whether a character has succeeded or failed a check has already been calculated, and no amount of quickloading/quicksaving will help. This is kind of a variation on the first, except with a little opacity thrown in. It may or may not be terrible, I'm not sure--it certainly might be difficult to implement in the game mechanics, in a way that's both performant and not gameable
  2. Loot, the first: The distribute loot button doesn't seem to account for encumbrance, meaning my low-capacity first character is constantly getting overloaded while my high-capacity players get nothing assigned to their inventories. If you're giving me an affordance to take some of the tedium out of looting, please make sure it's less tedious than manually distributing loot in the first place.
  3. Loot, the second: Similarly, since there's no way to see how encumbered a character is except on the inventory screen, I never know who to pass items to when I'm distributing things without going to their screen. This means a lot of flipping back and forth to remember numbers that I shouldn't have to be doing.
  4. Weaponsmithing: When I'm destroying an item for parts, just let me choose which parts. The way the system is, my optimal play is to save/load to get whichever I'm trying for. Again, tedious. Similarly, when detaching a mod, it should either be recoverable, or not--no percentage chance.
  5. NPC Ammo ownership: If I accidentally pass Angela all my 5.56 ammo because I'm distributing things around, then I can't get it back. NPCs should either keep track of the amount of ammo they originally owned, and only get feisty to that level, or they should just not own ammo.
  6. Trinkets: There's no opportunity cost to having any trinkets. My optimal play is to fiddle with each one and slot it when needed (and quickload back to a chance to do so in case I forgot to, for example, if I forgot to put one of the *-Ass trinkets in before starting a dialog). Trinkets are much more interesting if carrying one gives me benefits at the cost of not putting in some other trinket. Some games accomplish this through attunement, or making things single-use with permanent effects, or other things like that. There are lots of options here.
  7. Specifically, that damn skill point trinket: This is the most tedious trinket in the game (that I've found, so far): I'm encouraged to micromanage experience gains so everyone gains levels one at a time, and slot the trinket before call-in to maximize bonus skill point gain. Even worse, I have zero incentive to slot the trinket at any other time, so it just sits around taking up inventory. Some form of attunement would greatly help this particular trinket, because its affect IS cool, just badly implemented.
  8. Another skill trinket note: As an aside, that trinket is the only place in the game that I can think of that calls skill points "survival points". The inconsistent terminology is pretty confusing, especially since all the UI elements imply they are "skill" points.
  9. Status effects: The ones that do damage don't do enough to give me any urgency. I tend to completely forget a character is poisoned until I see the effect go away. The ones that debilitate in some way are easy to get rid of (assuming I don't just quick load to redo whatever event gave it to me)--I just go and get a cup of tea or read something until the effect wears off. Again, tedious. The persistence should be based on something other than realtime play, and damaging effects should be scarier (balanced against available mitigations, like antivenom, of course).
  10. Tactics: I'd love love love a way to give simultaneous commands outside of combat. Setting up an ambush is much more difficult when I have to do everything one at a time at the speed of clicks, rather than giving three of my squadmates different move orders that are all executed simultaneously.
  11. Traps: If my high-awareness character detects a trap while they (or another character) is moving in to pick/disarm/whatever the object, stop the acting character. Forcing me to right-click every single safe and crate before I start doing my thing doesn't make the game better, it just makes it take longer.
That's all. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts, especially any devs (especially especially if any of these things are mitigated in an internal build).
Last edited by slitherrr on September 2nd, 2014, 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by mightygary101 » September 2nd, 2014, 6:07 pm

Hm that's interesting slitherr!
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 2nd, 2014, 6:38 pm

I discovered immediately on posting this that CenterCode has a "suggestions" category, so I feel a bit like a dunce. I pushed it into there for the devs' convenience (albeit probably also annoyance, since I just submitted a whole raft of issues at once)

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 2nd, 2014, 9:02 pm

minigame
pls no
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Drool » September 2nd, 2014, 9:09 pm

slitherrr wrote:Difficulties represent a threshold
Difficulties affect a minigame that the character plays
Please no. I loathe hard thresholds and minigames are a test of my skill, not the character's.
A variation on the first, difficulties are a threshold, with reduced/lengthened time taken to do the task as you approach or supercede the threshold (for example, a class 3 lock is unpickable at 1 skill, picks in 30s at 2 skill, in 10s at 3, in 5 at 4, etc).
Um... that is the current system.
When I'm destroying an item for parts, just let me choose which parts. The way the system is, my optimal play is to save/load to get whichever I'm trying for.
I disagree. If you're so obsessed with "optimal" results that you'll save scum when using weaponsmithing, you're well beyond the mean.
Again, tedious.
Only because you're making it so. Sorry.
Some games accomplish this through attunement, or making things single-use with permanent effects, or other things like that. There are lots of options here.
I'm probably going to sound like Cros here, but bind-on-use is trashy MMO crap. I absolutely loathe bind-on-use for anything short of truly epic/legendary items that have a personality of their own and are truly unique (not "unique-as-a-classification" but "only one in the game"). Otherwise, it's just the game developer trying to fiddle with the in-game economy. Bad enough in an MMO which has an interactive economy, but it's just bonkers in a single player game.
Specifically, that damn skill point trinket
Yeah, there's been a lot of hue and cry over that. I'm wagering it won't be the same come release.
Another skill trinket note: As an aside, that trinket is the only place in the game that I can think of that calls skill points "survival points". The inconsistent terminology is pretty confusing, especially since all the UI elements imply they are "skill" points.
That's an artifact from when the game was calling the Survival Points. Good catch.
Traps: If my high-awareness character detects a trap while they (or another character) is moving in to pick/disarm/whatever the object, stop the acting character.

Very good point.
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 2nd, 2014, 11:41 pm

Drool wrote: Please no. I loathe hard thresholds and minigames are a test of my skill, not the character's.
What do you hate about hard thresholds, specifically? Can you give a specific reason why is it worse than an arbitrary die roll?

Also, I mostly agree with you about minigames, and I said as much in the post. I mostly suggested it to warn away from it.
Drool wrote: Um... that is the current system.
It's not at all. The current system is "there's a percentage chance of failure, critical failure, success, or critical success. Success happens at the same speed every time, except in a critical success, when it is faster. Critical failure prevents retries". This suggestion would not have critical failures, and failure is certain at a given skill level. It is, essentially, the threshold proposal, but with an added time mechanic. I mention it because it gives the designers opportunity to present an external, "time-based" failure mode (the guard patrols and catches you in the act, for instance), which is more interesting than, "I rolled too low".
Drool wrote: I disagree. If you're so obsessed with "optimal" results that you'll save scum when using weaponsmithing, you're well beyond the mean.
You're confusing "obsessed with optimal" with "this is the optimal play that the system supports". A game supports a style of play that lends towards the metrics of success that it proposes, and there is an optimal way to approach those metrics. A good design philosophy is for the "optimal" strategy to closely mimic the "most fun" strategy, for some definition of "most fun" (which, for most people, is not "constantly quickloading and quicksaving"). I'm not saying this is the way I feel like I have to play the game--I'm saying that thinking with "optimal" play in mind is a design strategy for maximizing fun, and it is a strategy that I have seen successfully deployed in other games.
Drool wrote: Only because you're making it so. Sorry.
See above. And don't be patronizing.
Drool wrote:I'm probably going to sound like Cros here, but bind-on-use is trashy MMO crap. I absolutely loathe bind-on-use for anything short of truly epic/legendary items that have a personality of their own and are truly unique (not "unique-as-a-classification" but "only one in the game"). Otherwise, it's just the game developer trying to fiddle with the in-game economy. Bad enough in an MMO which has an interactive economy, but it's just bonkers in a single player game.
I don't know who Cros is, but nevermind. This has nothing to do with MMO usage of bind-on-equip/use except superficially. The point isn't to limit the trinket to a single character, but to limit each character to a single trinket. The specific mechanic doesn't matter--the mechanic is successful when it forces an opportunity cost with the trinket that gives the player reasons to choose and keep wearing one trinket over the other, rather than just allowing the player to have an assortment of trinkets lying around that are just slotted in (tediously) when appropriate. Maybe the effect takes a certain amount of XP to "warm up" (this is effectively what I mean by an "attunement" mechanic). The choice has to be made carefully, because otherwise you'll just scum time/xp/whatever instead, but the problem nevertheless exists and deserves to be thought about.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 2nd, 2014, 11:54 pm

Hard thresholds promote a "metagame" of not spending your skill points until you find a check, then putting just enough points in that one skill to pass the check. Being able to attempt a skill check from a lower level, with a lower chance to succeed, encourages the player to actually spend skill points, or they simply jot down on a bit paper where the skill check is and come back later when they have the "magic number" of points in that skill.

I just find it way too restrictive and un-RPG-like to have situations where a door is locked and you need EXACTLY 4 Lockpicking or you can't open it, no element of chance, no chance of failure, randomness or unpredictability. It becomes less like a RPG, more like a puzzle game when you remove chance.

I do agree that binary "success or fail" on die rolls isn't very interesting, but to me it's preferable to hard thresholds which are static and boring by their very nature. If someone wants to "save scum" to retry skill checks over and over again, sheesh just let em.


EDIT: As for Trinkets, I just want them out of the game full-stop just because of how cheesy and game-y they are, and the way they don't fit with the game's lore at all. My preference would be items being linked to skills, so to use Lockpicking you need to use a Lockpick, to use Toaster Repair you need a screwdriver, to use Alarm Disarm you need a Wire-cutter, just stuff that generally makes sense, not "Ship in a Bottle that gives you 1+ skill points per level" :roll:
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Woolfe » September 3rd, 2014, 3:29 am

This is my 2nd attempt to post because after putting a note in saying that "I think you can just hit back and recover your message". I waited too long, hit back and discovered, that no it was lost. The irony wasn't lost on me :roll: :lol:

Anyway
slitherrr wrote:Lockpicking, etc: Limiting player access to items and areas is a hard problem. WL2 tries to solve this with difficulty classes that result in probabilities, and chances of critical failure to limit spam. I believe this is the wrong way to go about it--my optimal play when the game is designed this way is to quicksave before every attempt, and just reload on a critical failure, which is a tedious way to play the game. This isn't an easy problem, and open-world RPGs have tried a lot of different ways of going about it with varying levels of success. Here's a quick, very incomplete, enumeration:
This is your issue. I am not meaning to be offensive when I say that. But if you save scum(not my terminology) that is your own issue.
No one is forcing you to do that. It is not the only option. From what I understand there is no spot in the game that will prevent you from completing the main story because of a skill fail.
All the locked doors and safes etc, that you need to use a skill check on, are not required stuff. You don't need them to win the game. So if you miss it, then it is not a loss. Indeed the game has been designed under the premise that you will not find everything in a single playthrough. Designed so that next time you play, taking a different skill set will give you different results, and options, whilst losing others. Indeed there has been suggestions that sometimes "failing" something may actually give a better long term result.
slitherrr wrote:Difficulties represent a threshold--either you have enough skill, or you don't. This is very straightforward, which I like, but it's not very satisfying, since accessing the limited areas or items is just a result of spending skill points in the right place. However, it is strictly better than the current system, which is essentially this, except accomplished through tedious quicksaving and quickloading.
Your opinion on thresholds is your own. It is purely a preference. I don't like thresholds for much the same reason that Cros raised. But also because you lose the aspect of the miracle chance. Where someone who shouldn't manages something.
The tedium caused by QS and QL is again down to you. No one is forcing that upon you.
slitherrr wrote:Difficulties affect a minigame that the character plays. This has a lot of potential, but in practice it's going to be very difficult to have a minigame that is engaging without that coming at the expense of the rest of the game. Further, failing the minigame usually just means quickloading again, only with additional tedium of having to play the (possibly subpar) minigame.
Minigames are bad, because they take away the Roleplaying element. It is no longer the stats of your character affecting whether you win, but you the players skill at doing some silly thing.
slitherrr wrote:A variation on the first, difficulties are a threshold, with reduced/lengthened time taken to do the task as you approach or supercede the threshold (for example, a class 3 lock is unpickable at 1 skill, picks in 30s at 2 skill, in 10s at 3, in 5 at 4, etc). This isn't very interesting by itself, but combined with some NPC patrolling mechanics it could provide some flavor that the simple threshold approach lacks.
This is a compromise I am not unhappy with. But I dislike thresholds as again it takes away from the character skill, vs player decisions.
slitherrr wrote:Loot, the first: The distribute loot button doesn't seem to account for encumbrance, meaning my low-capacity first character is constantly getting overloaded while my high-capacity players get nothing assigned to their inventories. If you're giving me an affordance to take some of the tedium out of looting, please make sure it's less tedious than manually distributing loot in the first place.
Loot, the second: Similarly, since there's no way to see how encumbered a character is except on the inventory screen, I never know who to pass items to when I'm distributing things without going to their screen. This means a lot of flipping back and forth to remember numbers that I shouldn't have to be doing.
Good suggestions
slitherrr wrote:Weaponsmithing: When I'm destroying an item for parts, just let me choose which parts. The way the system is, my optimal play is to save/load to get whichever I'm trying for. Again, tedious. Similarly, when detaching a mod, it should either be recoverable, or not--no percentage chance.
Again your own issue. Percentage chance is perfectly acceptable, and in my opinion the ideal, as it better represents the character than the player.
slitherrr wrote:NPC Ammo ownership: If I accidentally pass Angela all my 5.56 ammo because I'm distributing things around, then I can't get it back. NPCs should either keep track of the amount of ammo they originally owned, and only get feisty to that level, or they should just not own ammo.
I'm not 100% but I believe your leadership/charisma stuff affect this.
Also ultimatley just be more careful. The NPC's are not your characters, they have their own opinions on stuff, and aren't afraid to do things which you might not like.
slitherrr wrote:Trinkets: <SNIP>
Another skill trinket note: As an aside, that trinket is the only place in the game that I can think of that calls skill points "survival points". The inconsistent terminology is pretty confusing, especially since all the UI elements imply they are "skill" points.
Not a fan of trinkets myself. And as Drool said, Survival points was a good find. It was a holdover from some strange thought where they changed it from Skill to Survival.
slitherrr wrote:Status effects: The ones that do damage don't do enough to give me any urgency. I tend to completely forget a character is poisoned until I see the effect go away. The ones that debilitate in some way are easy to get rid of (assuming I don't just quick load to redo whatever event gave it to me)--I just go and get a cup of tea or read something until the effect wears off. Again, tedious. The persistence should be based on something other than realtime play, and damaging effects should be scarier (balanced against available mitigations, like antivenom, of course).
Be aware you are leveling faster in the beta than you will in the final. I started a quick team with little thought this patch to go see something, and one of my characters died from poison.
slitherrr wrote:Tactics: I'd love love love a way to give simultaneous commands outside of combat. Setting up an ambush is much more difficult when I have to do everything one at a time at the speed of clicks, rather than giving three of my squadmates different move orders that are all executed simultaneously.
Traps: If my high-awareness character detects a trap while they (or another character) is moving in to pick/disarm/whatever the object, stop the acting character. Forcing me to right-click every single safe and crate before I start doing my thing doesn't make the game better, it just makes it take longer.
Agreed on both counts.
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 3rd, 2014, 1:34 pm

Crosmando wrote:Hard thresholds promote a "metagame" of not spending your skill points until you find a check, then putting just enough points in that one skill to pass the check
This metagame is already supported by the system as it is (and in fact, my lockpickers/safecrackers all have spare points lying around for exactly this reason). Changing it to a hard threshold does not change this.
Woolfe wrote: This is your issue.... The tedium caused by QS and QL is again down to you. No one is forcing that upon you...Again your own issue.
I will attempt to explain this again: Tedium as a choice and tedium as "optimal" play are different things. The game, as designed, supports a particular behavior, and by its metrics of success, encourages it over other behavior that is less tedious. This has nothing to do with my personal preferences--if I choose to play the game with only one living PC and only melee weapons, that's certainly something I can decide to do, but this doesn't represent "optimal" play by any stretch. The distinction, when talking about game design, is very important, and has nothing at all to do with the actual choices made by individual players except insofar as the design supports or doesn't support those choices.
Woolfe wrote: Designed so that next time you play, taking a different skill set will give you different results, and options, whilst losing others. Indeed there has been suggestions that sometimes "failing" something may actually give a better long term result.
Sure. My argument is that it's meeting this design goal badly, because the design as-is supports behavior that allows a particular skill set to make it to pretty much any area of the game, as long as you're willing to put up with tedium.
Woolfe wrote: Minigames are bad, because they take away the Roleplaying element. It is no longer the stats of your character affecting whether you win, but you the players skill at doing some silly thing.
I've already said multiple times that minigames are not something I like, so I'm glad we agree.
Woolfe wrote: This is a compromise I am not unhappy with. But I dislike thresholds as again it takes away from the character skill, vs player decisions.
I question that assertion. Percentages are effectively no different, unless you're willing to arbitrarily limit yourself to not quickloading. What does the false randomness gain that better supports the distinction you're talking about?
Woolfe wrote: [Re: weaponsmithing]
...Percentage chance is perfectly acceptable, and in my opinion the ideal, as it better represents the character than the player.
I disagree that it better represents anything in particular. Why exactly do I get grip tape when I destroy a pickaxe, again? Or a scope when I take apart a pistol? And when the PC gets better at weaponsmithing, those chances don't change--why isn't the character who's better at taking things apart able to influence what comes out of the process at all? What real-world process is that percentage chance really representing, and why does making it random represent anything in a better way than making it nonrandom?
Woolfe wrote: [Re: NPC ammo ownership]
I'm not 100% but I believe your leadership/charisma stuff affect this.
Not that I've experienced, but it doesn't change my argument either way.
Woolfe wrote: Also ultimatley just be more careful. The NPC's are not your characters, they have their own opinions on stuff, and aren't afraid to do things which you might not like.
This is, emphatically, not the point. The point of good design is to present sensible functionality in a way that provides the least friction to enjoying the product (in this case, the game). I know extremely well that I should be careful, and I am--the complaint is that I have to be careful about this in the first place for no sensible reason. Angela doesn't have any good reason to stubbornly hold on to 500 rounds of 5.56 ammo when it encumbers her past movement, so I don't see why "NPCs have their own opinions" is an argument with any weight when those opinions are objectively stupid beyond even any semblance of real-life stupidity.
Woolfe wrote: [Re: Status effects]
Be aware you are leveling faster in the beta than you will in the final. I started a quick team with little thought this patch to go see something, and one of my characters died from poison.
I'm aware of the leveling issue, but it's good to see that the status effect issue is evidently being thought about (not that that change addresses the other problem).

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Gizmo » September 3rd, 2014, 4:01 pm

slitherrr wrote:
Woolfe wrote: This is your issue.... The tedium caused by QS and QL is again down to you. No one is forcing that upon you...Again your own issue.
I will attempt to explain this again: Tedium as a choice and tedium as "optimal" play are different things. The game, as designed, supports a particular behavior, and by its metrics of success, encourages it over other behavior that is less tedious. This has nothing to do with my personal preferences--if I choose to play the game with only one living PC and only melee weapons, that's certainly something I can decide to do, but this doesn't represent "optimal" play by any stretch. The distinction, when talking about game design, is very important, and has nothing at all to do with the actual choices made by individual players except insofar as the design supports or doesn't support those choices.
This has everything to do with personal preference; as you (or anyone) the player are preferring to go outside the experience offered by the game, to change a result that you prefer not to have happened in the way that it did.
Woolfe wrote: Designed so that next time you play, taking a different skill set will give you different results, and options, whilst losing others. Indeed there has been suggestions that sometimes "failing" something may actually give a better long term result.
Sure. My argument is that it's meeting this design goal badly, because the design as-is supports behavior that allows a particular skill set to make it to pretty much any area of the game, as long as you're willing to put up with tedium.
The designer need not concern themselves (or their design) with players that choose to abuse the convenience of reloading. They could if they wished, resort to save points instead... this actually helps discourage 'baby-stepping' an RPG; but none of these tactics will stop a player determined to abuse the systems... as some will go so far as to hack the executable, or alter the game resources ~also a preference. A player can cheat at Tic-Tac-Toe if they are willing to put up with the tedium of erasing.
Woolfe wrote: Minigames are bad, because they take away the Roleplaying element. It is no longer the stats of your character affecting whether you win, but you the players skill at doing some silly thing.
It depends on the minigame... Take Oblivion for instance, the Lock Pick game rewards the astute player regardless of their character's ineptness; but the conversation minigame is an abstraction of infinite smalltalk that represents the tone and the tactic plied on the NPC throughout the conversation, and the player's freedom is directly related to the PC's speechcraft skill.

So this game works well IMO. It simplifies what would normally be a complex issue, and then give you the end result.
Woolfe wrote: [Re: weaponsmithing]
...Percentage chance is perfectly acceptable, and in my opinion the ideal, as it better represents the character than the player.
I disagree that it better represents anything in particular. Why exactly do I get grip tape when I destroy a pickaxe, again? Or a scope when I take apart a pistol? And when the PC gets better at weaponsmithing, those chances don't change--why isn't the character who's better at taking things apart able to influence what comes out of the process at all? What real-world process is that percentage chance really representing, and why does making it random represent anything in a better way than making it nonrandom?
It's good that you asked this; here is the answer:

The percentile system is not random; most RPGs that use % offer a 'weighted percentile' system. the %roll reflects the inherent of the current situation their skill is about to affect. The character's skill percentage is essentially their confidence and ability to control the situation with their knowledge and experience.

A master locksmith will trivially open cheap consumer locks ~usually, but not always. Every situation is different; no two locks are truly the same, nor are the same locks exactly the same twice; (environmental conditions/ past damage/ original flaws/ personal PC conditions/ mistakes distraction/ even momentary cramps or headaches/ stress/ minor injury/ variably damaged tools)... all of this can be abstracted down to a percentile roll where the PC's expertise is applied, and the expert usually succeeds and the complete novice usually fails.

The probabilities reflect their relative skill. Better at picking locks means more likely to succeed opening locks ~but not perfect. If one must extrapolate then envision a hotel hallway with several rooms, all with the same model cheap consumer grade lock. Now consider if the last door has a stiff tumbler that's difficult ~sometimes~ to open even with the key; imagine trying to open it with picks. Imagine one of the locks is rusty; imagine one of the locks has been kicked in before, and has something rattling in it. All of these locks may turn out to be easier or harder than expected.

Now the developer can go to the expense of customizing every lock in the game with custom stats and descriptions, and possibly damage art, sound effects... or they can simply use a weighted percentile system that elegantly implies the lot of it. 8-)

*This of course works with just about any skill, not just locks; repairs/ Speech checks... consider the PC walks up to an NPC and starts talking ~what if they have a headache and don't want to talk, but are on good terms and don't wish to be impolite? But they are irritable and/or impatient; convincing them of something might see them agree to get it over with, or be far harder to win over as they are distracted... In both these cases the silver tongued devil could unexpectedly strike out, and the unsure quiet fellow might luck out with a ham-fisted suggestion... but these are the exceptions, never the rule.

With 'Hard Thresholds' a game establishes a superman; infallible. The player is always informed and aware of their impending success or they don't even try. Their PC commands the world and all [non-combat] events bend to their expectations. This is not a good system for an RPG IMO; this is a system for an arcade game.
slitherrr wrote:Angela doesn't have any good reason to stubbornly hold on to 500 rounds of 5.56 ammo when it encumbers her past movement, so I don't see why "NPCs have their own opinions" is an argument with any weight when those opinions are objectively stupid beyond even any semblance of real-life stupidity.
NPCs are loose cannons. If they want to be jerks they can be; if they want to hold on to a wrench for semi-mental reasons, then they can. There is no rule that they are even sane, or even like the PC party members much. They are including themselves for their own motives.

*But on a technical side; Angela is a high level NPC with loot, and the player should not get to accept NPCs and rob them.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 3rd, 2014, 5:16 pm

Gizmo wrote:This has everything to do with personal preference; as you (or anyone) the player are preferring to go outside the experience offered by the game, to change a result that you prefer not to have happened in the way that it did.
Again, it doesn't. Anyone reading this thread should separate this concept of "a particular player playing with that player's choices" from "the theoretically 'optimal' set of choices that a theoretical player could make, given the success metrics the game proposes". This has nothing to do with me personally choosing to load and save, and everything to do with the affordance of loading and saving. (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance)
Gizmo wrote: The designer need not concern themselves (or their design) with players that choose to abuse the convenience of reloading. They could if they wished, resort to save points instead... this actually helps discourage 'baby-stepping' an RPG; but none of these tactics will stop a player determined to abuse the systems... as some will go so far as to hack the executable, or alter the game resources ~also a preference. A player can cheat at Tic-Tac-Toe if they are willing to put up with the tedium of erasing.
My position is that, yes, the designers DO need to concern themselves with this--not because some subset of players will "abuse" a game mechanic, but because good design will cause "abusive" (i.e., "optimal") play and "fun" play to converge and result in a better game for everybody. Save points, for example, would be a terrible design decision by this same metric--you have increased the tedium of "abusive" play (because now you reload to the save point), and simultaneously increased tedium for "normal" play (by forcing the player to replay more of the game if their party wipes).

I'm actually glad you bring up Tic-Tac-Toe, because as a game, it's simple enough to provide a really great example of what I'm talking about.

Let's assume the particular version of Tic-Tac-Toe you're playing is a single-player computer game (against an AI). If the computer game doesn't allow erasing, then the point is null--the affordance isn't there, and there's no argument to make. Let's imagine, then, that it is. Then there are two subcases here for how the AI could react. If the AI is deterministic (a particular board state always produces a particular AI move, completely reasonable in Tic-Tac-Toe), then all you've introduced is the ability for the player to see how different moves on their part pans out. You've actually reduced tedium, because the player can branch off from previous moves rather than replaying the first set of moves over again to see what the different result might be.

On the other hand, if the AI is not deterministic, then allowing the player to take back their moves suddenly increases tedium for optimal play. If our theoretical player is interested in winning as many of these Tic-Tac-Toe games as possible, then they are incentivized to take back and replay their moves as many times as it takes to get to an optimal state. My argument is that this incentive makes the game worse, and that the real problem is not the ability to take back the move, but the non-determinism of the AI, because that provides the real incentive to use the erasing affordance. The game is not any more interesting with nondeterministic AI, only more random. If you design a better AI, you remove the tedium of the erasing affordance, and your game is better.
Gizmo wrote: It depends on the minigame... Take Oblivion for instance, the Lock Pick game rewards the astute player regardless of their character's ineptness; but the conversation minigame is an abstraction of infinite smalltalk that represents the tone and the tactic plied on the NPC throughout the conversation, and the player's freedom is directly related to the PC's speechcraft skill.

So this game works well IMO. It simplifies what would normally be a complex issue, and then give you the end result.
Yeah, it can be done well. I mostly think that the chance of it being done well is just very small, especially when you've got an entire rest of the game to worry about.
Gizmo wrote: It's good that you asked this; here is the answer:

The percentile system is not random; most RPGs that use % offer a 'weighted percentile' system. the %roll reflects the inherent of the current situation their skill is about to affect. The character's skill percentage is essentially their confidence and ability to control the situation with their knowledge and experience.

A master locksmith will trivially open cheap consumer locks ~usually, but not always. Every situation is different; no two locks are truly the same, nor are the same locks exactly the same twice; (environmental conditions/ past damage/ original flaws/ personal PC conditions/ mistakes distraction/ even momentary cramps or headaches/ stress/ minor injury/ variably damaged tools)... all of this can be abstracted down to a percentile roll where the PC's expertise is applied, and the expert usually succeeds and the complete novice usually fails.

The probabilities reflect their relative skill. Better at picking locks means more likely to succeed opening locks ~but not perfect. If one must extrapolate then envision a hotel hallway with several rooms, all with the same model cheap consumer grade lock. Now consider if the last door has a stiff that's difficult ~sometimes~ to open even with the key; imagine trying to open it with picks. Imagine one of the locks is rusty; imagine one of the locks has been kicked in before, and has something rattling in it. All of these locks may turn out to be easier or harder than expected.

Now the developer can go to the expense of customizing every lock in the game with custom stats and descriptions, and possibly damage art, sound effects... or they can simply use a weighted percentile system that elegantly implies the lot of it. 8-)

*This of course works with just about any skill, not just locks; repairs/ Speech checks... consider the PC walks up to an NPC and starts talking ~what if they have a headache and don't want to talk, but are on good terms and don't wish to be impolite? But they are irritable and/or impatient; convincing them of something might see them agree to get it over with, or be far harder to win over as they are distracted... In both these cases the silver tongued devil could unexpectedly strike out, and the unsure quiet fellow might luck out with a ham-fisted suggestion... but these are the exceptions, never the rule.

With 'Hard Thresholds' a game establishes a superman; infallible. The player is always informed and aware of their impending success or they don't even try. Their PC commands the world and all [non-combat] events bend to their expectations. This is not a good system for an RPG IMO; this is a system for an arcade game.
This has almost nothing to do with the weaponsmithing question you're responding to, which specifically does not change probabilities based on skill. Inasmuch as each weapon in the game might have slight differences that cause a barrel-mounted flashlight to turn into a magazine, sure, you might try to simulate that. That doesn't answer why it's worth it to do so.

That said, I don't have any problem understanding why percentage-based systems exist in RPGs. I'm baffled that you'd think I would. And that percentile system works perfectly fine for RPGs, where the game is designed around the principle of a human arbiter who exists to tell you that you have to accept the results of the dice (or not, if the situation warrants). But just because a mechanic works well in pen and paper RPGs doesn't mean I should also expect it to work equally well in a CRPG. In fact, I would argue very specifically that it doesn't.
Gizmo wrote:NPCs are loose cannons. If they want to be jerks they can be; if they want to hold on to a wrench for semi-mental reasons, then they can. There is no rule that they are even sane, or even like the PC party members much. They are including themselves for their own motives.

*But on a technical side; Angela is a high level NPC with loot, and the player should not get to accept NPCs and rob them.
Rubbish. NPCs are free to be jerks if they want, but "I'm going to sit around my 200 lbs of ammunition and growl at anyone who tries to take it away" goes from "being a jerk" to "being a subhumanly irrational lunatic". What possible reason can you give for supporting that behavior, when Angela (and all of the NPCs, save perhaps the Night Terror) are distinctly characterized as not being subhumanly irrational lunatics?

And I never said that NPCs shouldn't own items. I just said that NPCs that own a stack of ammunition have no reason to own the entire stack if you later give them more ammunition. Why is that position objectionable for any conceivable reason?

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Woolfe » September 3rd, 2014, 6:57 pm

Oh bugger.. you have replied since I started this... :roll: I will respond to your comments later... Stupid work interrupting forum discussions :lol:
slitherrr wrote:
Woolfe wrote: This is your issue.... The tedium caused by QS and QL is again down to you. No one is forcing that upon you...Again your own issue.
I will attempt to explain this again: Tedium as a choice and tedium as "optimal" play are different things. The game, as designed, supports a particular behavior, and by its metrics of success, encourages it over other behavior that is less tedious. This has nothing to do with my personal preferences--if I choose to play the game with only one living PC and only melee weapons, that's certainly something I can decide to do, but this doesn't represent "optimal" play by any stretch. The distinction, when talking about game design, is very important, and has nothing at all to do with the actual choices made by individual players except insofar as the design supports or doesn't support those choices.
You can explain it however you wish. It doesn't change the fact that you are choosing to reload the game. This is not an "optimal play style" this is not something that the developers designed the game to do. This is your use of a function created for a specific purpose(saving the game, so that you don't have to start again every time you play) to get around game mechanics that have been designed and balanced to give you a certain degree of success and failure.

Let me put it another way, why would a developer create multiple paths including "fail paths" if they designed the game so that the player can always get the optimal path?

Save/Reload to avoid "failure" is not a design feature it is simply a side effect of a function. If you choose to use that function inappropriately, then it affects only you. Hence any experience of tedium is purely your own fault.
slitherrr wrote:
Woolfe wrote: Designed so that next time you play, taking a different skill set will give you different results, and options, whilst losing others. Indeed there has been suggestions that sometimes "failing" something may actually give a better long term result.
Sure. My argument is that it's meeting this design goal badly, because the design as-is supports behavior that allows a particular skill set to make it to pretty much any area of the game, as long as you're willing to put up with tedium.
You are incorrect as the tedium is only an issue for those who are willingly going outside the design functionality. A player who doesn't Save/Reload will have a little bit of excitement with every attempt because there is always a chance of catastrophic failure.
You are applying design principle to something in the assumption that every mechanic will be used to affect every other. Whereas this is simply not the case. The save game mechanic is not a game mechanic. It is not "in the world". Your choice to use it is entirely your own, as the only person it affects is you.
slitherrr wrote:
Woolfe wrote: Also ultimatley just be more careful. The NPC's are not your characters, they have their own opinions on stuff, and aren't afraid to do things which you might not like.
This is, emphatically, not the point. The point of good design is to present sensible functionality in a way that provides the least friction to enjoying the product (in this case, the game). I know extremely well that I should be careful, and I am--the complaint is that I have to be careful about this in the first place for no sensible reason. Angela doesn't have any good reason to stubbornly hold on to 500 rounds of 5.56 ammo when it encumbers her past movement, so I don't see why "NPCs have their own opinions" is an argument with any weight when those opinions are objectively stupid beyond even any semblance of real-life stupidity.
Sure, but that is a different situation to say "If I accidentally pass Angela all my 5.56 ammo because I'm distributing things around, then I can't get it back. NPCs should either keep track of the amount of ammo they originally owned, and only get feisty to that level, or they should just not own ammo."
Don't move the Goalposts here. Angela may not want to give up a bit of ammo, that is a function of the design of the NPC personalities. Hell she may not want to give it all up, and you have to dismiss her. :lol: Ok that's a bit extreme, and the scaling for gear keeping is clearly not quite correct. But don't mistake the issue here. The gear keeping is a purposeful design. It gives the NPC's character which is the goal.
Things can be frustrating in a game, that doesn't mean the game is badly designed. It just means that sometimes you can't win everything.

I'll leave the rest to Gizmo, who answered it all very eloquently in my opinion 8-)
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Gizmo » September 3rd, 2014, 8:15 pm

slitherrr wrote:...
:D
You have the assumption that tedium needs removing, and that a player should ever be allowed to manage 'the perfect game'.

There is a problem with your 'optimal theory'; RPGs have rules not for saying saying "yes", but for saying "no". If one plays a game where everything goes their way, it stops being fun if there is no risk to it. RPGs are about limitations more than ability; weakness more than strengths; though they are certainly about both.

The only reason to appreciate any good fortune, is knowing that it really doesn't have to be that way; and you appreciate it more the less likely it was to happen. IE. it's the risk of getting caught picking a pocket that makes it exciting. I feel sorry for those that only see failure as a need to reload, and can't accept that that is how the PC's life plays out. Image The best RPGs are designed to be played multiple times with various ~different~ PCs; would you really have that every session you play always plays out perfectly, and never see the results of unexpected failures, and the paths they cause you to take? (Or even unlock!)

What you are defending is to quit the game, enter the menus and reload to cheat the game as a personal preference of not wanting to accept the course of events that the game displays. The game developers are not obliged to design the game against that kind of abuse... [Though I wish they would; I know several games that do, all of them grand].
Your alternative would seem to be [if I had to guess], that they design the game like a servile host willing to contort themselves to no end in order to acquiesce to the player's every wish for empowerment fantasy. This is the root of the 'theme park' epithet given to all of Bethesda's recent TES & FO titles. :(
It's a terrible way to waste an RPG IMO. I won't play an RPG if it hasn't got a backbone ~beautiful or not, it's a waste of time.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 3rd, 2014, 8:45 pm

Control freak designers who want to control every aspect of the gameplay experience are the problem. If a player wants to "save scum", save and reload to get optimal results - let them. It is the player's decision to do this to pass skill checks, if they find this "tedious" - don't do it. The answer isn't to remove all elements of chance/randomness from skill checks and make skill checks totally bland just to get rid of this perceived "flaw". As has already been said, allowing "save scum" is not a design decision, it's simply a consequence of being able to save and load a game anywhere.

We need to return to the time when cRPG designers were neutral arbiters of the game rules, a designer's job in a cRPG is to simply give the players the tools for an adventure, the dialogue, interactions etc, like a tabletop RPG.

EDIT: Either way I don't know why this is even a discussion when WL2 is out in like two weeks.
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 6th, 2014, 12:37 am

Wolfe wrote: You can explain it however you wish. It doesn't change the fact that you are choosing to reload the game. This is not an "optimal play style" this is not something that the developers designed the game to do.
They quite definitely designed the game to quicksave and quickload. That particular design also has the unintended side-effects of being abusable. Just because that wasn't their intention, it doesn't make it any less an affordance. My argument is that it is possible to iterate on this design, keep including the quicksave and quickload mechanics (and the nice features they provide), while removing the abusive affordance. You're really failing to understand this, so I'm sorry if my explanation isn't getting through to you, but the thing you're arguing against is not the position I am holding.
Woolfe wrote: This is your use of a function created for a specific purpose(saving the game, so that you don't have to start again every time you play) to get around game mechanics that have been designed and balanced to give you a certain degree of success and failure.
Intent is not the end of design. I can "intend" to draw a photorealistic picture of an orc, but unless I execute it well, it's going to come out a stickman. Just because I intended the former doesn't make my execution any less terrible.

Woolfe wrote: Let me put it another way, why would a developer create multiple paths including "fail paths" if they designed the game so that the player can always get the optimal path?
You mistake "an optimal path" with "everything is given to the player". There is an "optimal path" when you're playing chess. That doesn't mean the game of chess only gives you success paths. Do you see the difference?
Woolfe wrote: Save/Reload to avoid "failure" is not a design feature it is simply a side effect of a function. If you choose to use that function inappropriately, then it affects only you. Hence any experience of tedium is purely your own fault.
It being a side-effect does not mean it is not a design feature. See above.
Woolfe wrote: You are incorrect as the tedium is only an issue for those who are willingly going outside the design functionality. A player who doesn't Save/Reload will have a little bit of excitement with every attempt because there is always a chance of catastrophic failure.

You are applying design principle to something in the assumption that every mechanic will be used to affect every other. Whereas this is simply not the case. The save game mechanic is not a game mechanic. It is not "in the world". Your choice to use it is entirely your own, as the only person it affects is you.
There is no such thing as "not in the world". It exists in the game. The game is the world. Don't confuse verisimilitude with simulation--this game seeks to recreate some aspects of the real world in order to create a fun experience, it does not create a fun experience by exactly imitating the real world. If you keep attacking straw men and refuse to acknowledge this difference between "theoretically optimum play" and "you're just playing the game wrong", then I can't do much else to convey my point.
Woolfe wrote:
Sure, but that is a different situation to say "If I accidentally pass Angela all my 5.56 ammo because I'm distributing things around, then I can't get it back. NPCs should either keep track of the amount of ammo they originally owned, and only get feisty to that level, or they should just not own ammo."
Don't move the Goalposts here. Angela may not want to give up a bit of ammo, that is a function of the design of the NPC personalities. Hell she may not want to give it all up, and you have to dismiss her. :lol: Ok that's a bit extreme, and the scaling for gear keeping is clearly not quite correct. But don't mistake the issue here. The gear keeping is a purposeful design. It gives the NPC's character which is the goal.
Things can be frustrating in a game, that doesn't mean the game is badly designed. It just means that sometimes you can't win everything.
I haven't moved a damn thing. You're continuing to insist that Angela shouldn't have any problem keeping ammo. I'm saying that it leads to idiotic results, and there should be caveats. Stop arguing against a position that doesn't exist.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 6th, 2014, 12:51 am

Gizmo wrote: :D
You have the assumption that tedium needs removing, and that a player should ever be allowed to manage 'the perfect game'.
These are completely different things. I do think tedium should be removed whenever possible. That has nothing to do with managing a "perfect" game.
Gizmo wrote: There is a problem with your 'optimal theory'; RPGs have rules not for saying saying "yes", but for saying "no". If one plays a game where everything goes their way, it stops being fun if there is no risk to it. RPGs are about limitations more than ability; weakness more than strengths; though they are certainly about both.
You are arguing against something I never said, but even this is nonsense. RPGs focus much more on what a character CAN do than what he can't. That's why the character sheet puts skills a character has points in at the top, rather than moving them all the way at the bottom below all that other stuff the character is terrible at.
Gizmo wrote: The only reason to appreciate any good fortune, is knowing that it really doesn't have to be that way; and you appreciate it more the less likely it was to happen. IE. it's the risk of getting caught picking a pocket that makes it exciting. I feel sorry for those that only see failure as a need to reload, and can't accept that that is how the PC's life plays out. Image
You can feel free to tell me what gives me ultimate satisfaction (and you'd be wrong), but you're still missing the point.
Gizmo wrote: The best RPGs are designed to be played multiple times with various ~different~ PCs; would you really have that every session you play always plays out perfectly, and never see the results of unexpected failures, and the paths they cause you to take? (Or even unlock!)
How does my proposal stop this, again? "Oh, that fence is too difficult for me this playthrough, better go around it!, is still a decision that exists. If anything, determinism makes this sort of branching easier to design for, because you don't have to sandbag all your probabilities just in case the player got unlucky at every single possibility that was available.
Gizmo wrote: What you are defending is to quit the game, enter the menus and reload to cheat the game as a personal preference of not wanting to accept the course of events that the game displays. The game developers are not obliged to design the game against that kind of abuse... [Though I wish they would; I know several games that do, all of them grand].
Your alternative would seem to be [if I had to guess], that they design the game like a servile host willing to contort themselves to no end in order to acquiesce to the player's every wish for empowerment fantasy. This is the root of the 'theme park' epithet given to all of Bethesda's recent TES & FO titles. :(
It's a terrible way to waste an RPG IMO. I won't play an RPG if it hasn't got a backbone ~beautiful or not, it's a waste of time.
Again, "designing for optimal play" and "giving the player whatever he wants" are completely different things. Go read the response to Woolfe.

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by slitherrr » September 6th, 2014, 1:03 am

Crosmando wrote:Control freak designers who want to control every aspect of the gameplay experience are the problem.
Apart from your mischaracterization of the entire point of "design", designers with defined goals are... what problem, exactly? Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is an excellent example of a game with a dev team that follows this particular design principle more thoroughly than any other I've seen, and the resulting game is one of the most difficult, deepest, and most rewarding games I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Seriously, give it a shot--if you think that game is somehow "dumbed down" or "gives the players everything they want", then you've suffered brain damage, and I'm so, so sorry for your loss.
Crosmando wrote: If a player wants to "save scum", save and reload to get optimal results - let them. It is the player's decision to do this to pass skill checks, if they find this "tedious" - don't do it. The answer isn't to remove all elements of chance/randomness from skill checks and make skill checks totally bland just to get rid of this perceived "flaw". As has already been said, allowing "save scum" is not a design decision, it's simply a consequence of being able to save and load a game anywhere.
Read my other responses, you guys keep parroting each other and I only have limited patience.
Crosmando wrote:We need to return to the time when cRPG designers were neutral arbiters of the game rules, a designer's job in a cRPG is to simply give the players the tools for an adventure, the dialogue, interactions etc, like a tabletop RPG.
cRPGs were never neutral arbiters giving a platform for tabletop-style interaction and dialogue. How could they be? Without a human intelligence to arbitrate, the rules that make DnD and the like engaging become nonsensical. cRPGs have always needed their own mechanics in order to arbitrate story and interactions in a way that make up for deficiencies in dynamism and intelligence that the game gets by simply not being run by a human intelligence. This mythical "time" that you would like the genre to return to has never existed.
Crosmando wrote:EDIT: Either way I don't know why this is even a discussion when WL2 is out in like two weeks.
And games are never patched post-release?

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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 6th, 2014, 1:12 am

Random chance of success/failure on skill checks is better because it introduces some elements of chance and unpredictability. Hard thresholds are boring because their is no chance of failure, you either succeed or you fail (or you can't even attempt the check), this is not fun gameplay. Disarming a bomb and knowing that if you have the required amount of skill points it will never explode - robs the game of unpredictability and makes it more of a puzzle game than an RPG. Taking out the chances of "miracle success" or "catastrophic failure" just makes the game boring. Who cares if it "encourages" people to quick save/load, it's the player's choice to do it if they want. Developers who try to micromanage and control freak games are terrible, there job is to provide the tools for the player like a tabletop RPG.
I do think tedium should be removed whenever possible.
Now this is a suspect thing to say. Because to me it sounds like another buzzword, "immersion" and all the rest go in this category. Your suggestions to eliminate what you call "tedium" would in fact make the game worse.

Sorry but whenever this discussion comes up, I think of a whining complainer who hates randomness but wants to eliminate a feature for everyone else because they don't personally like it. No one is forcing you to quick save/load on every skill check. Come on, just because you keep getting a critical failure and screw locks doesn't mean you have to take it out on everyone else.
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 6th, 2014, 1:32 am

slitherrr wrote: Apart from your mischaracterization of the entire point of "design", designers with defined goals are... what problem, exactly?
As far as I'm concerned, the role of the designers is to create the rules, the same as the core-rules in a tabletop RPG, create the world locations and dialogue responses, but essentially allow the player to run amok in the world and do whatever they want - kill any NPC, go anywhere and do anything to see what happens, that kinda thing.

Stuff like being able to kill everyone in the world and therefore "break" the game and make it unable to finish, that's what excites me in a cRPG.
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is an excellent example of a game with a dev team that follows this particular design principle more thoroughly than any other I've seen, and the resulting game is one of the most difficult, deepest, and most rewarding games I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Seriously, give it a shot--if you think that game is somehow "dumbed down" or "gives the players everything they want", then you've suffered brain damage, and I'm so, so sorry for your loss.
It's a roguelike, not a cRPG. Not even comparable.
Read my other responses, you guys keep parroting each other and I only have limited patience.
Probably because we've all heard this argument before and no longer care to listen to it again.
Crosmando wrote: cRPGs were never neutral arbiters giving a platform for tabletop-style interaction and dialogue. How could they be? Without a human intelligence to arbitrate, the rules that make DnD and the like engaging become nonsensical. cRPGs have always needed their own mechanics in order to arbitrate story and interactions in a way that make up for deficiencies in dynamism and intelligence that the game gets by simply not being run by a human intelligence.
No one expects "perfect" and of course cRPGs need to be more mechanical than a tabletop game. I still think that the emphasis should be on empowering the player rather than restricting them, and I utterly detest any control freaks who seeks to remove interesting features and options from a game because they find them "unbalanced" or "exploitable". The role of the dev is to give us as much "stuff" as possible.
This mythical "time" that you would like the genre to return to has never existed.
Seriously, have you never played the original Wasteland, Bard's Tales, early Might & Magics, Ultimas and the like? Those games were incredibly open and allowed the player to do many many things the designers never anticipated. How many stories on this forum are there of people "exploiting" the original Wasteland's openness to do some amazing stuff - getting infinite money at Vegas from gambling, grinding Climb on the sand dunes, and so on. You would have to be quite ignorant if you didn't think a great joy of 80's RPGs was "breaking" them and finding all the little things, doing things the devs never anticipate because of the sheer amount of ways and order you can trigger events.
And games are never patched post-release?
Fortunately the designers of this game actually know what they're doing and can tell good suggestions from bad.
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Re: Interface/Design Discussion

Post by Crosmando » September 6th, 2014, 1:47 am

I just can't get over how unimaginative the "X is exploitable, remove it" crowd really are. I mean here's a question I would pose:

"The player's party is confronted by 4 Raiders asking them to pay a toll or pass. The player has a 50% chance at his current skill level of being successful in the intimidation or persuasion check to scare them off. This encourages the player to quick save before attempting the check so he can 'save scum' around it. How do you solve this?"

What a creative designer replies: "Well, instead of making a binary success/fail roll, make the conversation check roll individually on each Raider, so if you roll a perfect check all 4 raiders run off, if you get a mediocre score 1 or 2 might run off while the others fight, and if you completely fail they all stay to fight you."

What a control freak loser designer replies: "Hur dur this mechanic is exploitable! Remove! Remove all randomness!"

Randomness in skill checks can be made more interesting by adding degrees of success or fail, so a player is less inclined to reload a previous save if they didn't fail outright but were only partially successful. Of course some checks are always going to be binary, but as my above example shows it doesn't always have to be.
Matthias did nothing wrong!

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